While I’ve spent the majority of this month writing about things from the viewpoint of both a patient and a care provider I have decided to make this post focus on you as an individual and your responsibilities to yourself both as a patient and your own primary caregiver as they should be considered on in the same for if you don’t take care of yourself, or at least try to, how can anybody else help you?
While most may not think of things as this black and white, you are your own primary caregiver. While one could argue that this is simply my opinion, I think it is a very important aspect of one’s health. When I say you have a responsibility to take care of yourself I am not simply referring to eating right, exercising more, or things that might typically come to mind when the subject of taking care of oneself is generally mentioned.
You have a responsibility to recognize that there was something wrong in the first place and to seek out medical care, diagnosis, treatment, etcetera. After all, who knows your own body better than you do?
You have a responsibility to do everything you can to promote healing or to improve your own personal health situation. If it requires physical therapy, then you must do the prescribed treatment. If you are allergic to nuts, then you have to avoid nuts.
You have a responsibility to be honest with yourself and others about your health and how you are feeling. To be clear, no I don’t mean to whine to total strangers about what you may be going through. I mean acknowledge to those close to you and your care team what challenges you may be experiencing. Good communication is key. How will they know you’re in pain if you don’t tell them? How does your spouse know you may have a migraine if you don’t tell them?
You have a responsibility to believe in yourself. Yes, you read that right. If you feel there is something wrong with your body, then you have a responsibility to the symptom with the appropriate medical professional.
You have a responsibility to step up to the plate and be your own best and engaged advocate. That means you need to learn how to communicate and be an effective partner in your care team whether it be your immediate family who may aid in your care or your healthcare team.
You have a responsibility to do your homework and not to rely solely on others to educate you about your health. If you’ve already been lucky enough to receive a diagnosis then go to authoritative websites or organizations who can properly aid you in educating yourself as to what to expect, how to mitigate symptoms, and how to live functionally and as best as possible with your diagnosis.
You have a responsibility, above all else, to take care of you. You may be thinking but I have kids or a spouse or family member who depend on me. That may be true, but if you don’t do what you can to take care of yourself the best you can in your given situation, then are you really being there for your children or your family? Can you be expected to sustain being there for them if you aren’t able to devote the time and energy to caring for yourself?
You have a responsibility to not bury your head in the sand. None of us likes receiving a chronic or lifelong, or potentially even terminal diagnosis. However, as with most things in life, pretending you’re an ostrich and burying your head in the sand will do nothing to help you. It sometimes seems to be the easier option, but certainly isn’t effective.
You have a responsibility to acknowledge your thoughts, feelings, emotions, and even physical symptoms as real and valid. If you hide them from your spouse in an attempt to shield them from the severity is that fair to either of you? If you don’t admit how things really are, how can you expect them to know? This could also apply to your interactions with your healthcare providers.
I could ramble about responsibilities you have to yourself for much longer than this post is, but maybe I’ll do that in the book I’m working on. It is certainly much too detailed for a post of this size, but definitely worth the words as are many of the topics I’ve touched on this month. So very many times I’ve found myself truncating posts to keep them readable for visitors, and each one of those times I could have gone on for hours about a particular topic.
What are your thoughts on some of these basic responsibilities to yourself I’ve shared here? Do you take time to make yourself a priority or do you put yourself on the back burner because you feel as if you’re less of a person due to your illness and put others before yourself? Please share with us in the comments below. We’d love to hear your input!
For those who have possibly commented on other posts but have not yet received a reply this month, please accept my most sincere apologies. This month has been super hectic and I have fallen behind on responding to comments at times, and occasionally one might slip through the cracks. Please be assured that I will respond to your comment and truly appreciate you taking the time. I read each comment as they are posted, but sometimes due to work and life, I am sometimes unable to respond immediately.
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